Legal Question in Landlord & Tenant Law in California

In March 2013 I signed a 1 year lease. Sometime in April letters addressed to my landlord were delivered from a Mortgage Co, so googled my address and found that the home I was leasing was in foreclosure and would be auctioned late May. I contacted the reality Company who rudely assured me that the Owner was not losing the house but continued to receive letters. May an appraiser tried opening the door with a key unaware the house had tenants. Again I called the reality company getting the same rude response. June I bought a Money order for rent but did not mail it. The Landlord left a voicemail stating he was not losing the house but if he did his friend would buy it and rent it to me. than I was served a 3 day pay or quit, the fourth day an unlawful detainer-eviction was served. What are my rights? Did my landlord commit fraud renting property he knowingly knew was in foreclosure. The foreclosure Auction is now pending.

Asked on 7/03/13, 8:42 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Kelvin Green The Law Office of Kelvin Green

Not sure how you think it was fraud. Californa law does not require them to tell you. You have a contract with landlord to pay rent. Yes he should be making His mortgage payments... At sometime there would be a new owner that you pay.

You are entitled to quiet enjoyment but don't see the receipt of mail from a mortgage company for him or appraiser coming once as much damages.

The failure to pay rent now sounds like you have an unlawful detainer case with all the costs and stigma that goes with it

LA county has a good summary sheet that won't be too far off for Barstow..

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Answered on 7/03/13, 9:58 pm

Timothy McCormick Libris Solutions - Dispute Resolution Services

We get so many questions like this and it is a really sad commentary on the lack of basic education people get in our society about property rights. Half the questions are from people in a panic because they are afraid they will lose their home immediately upon foreclosure. The other half are people like you who seem to think that the landlord's relationship with their lender has something to do with your rights, and you think you get to live rent free or sue for fraud if the lender can't pay the mortgage.

So let's make this real clear and hope other people will read this before posting the same issue over and over again.

1. Your landlord's relationship with their lender is none of your business.

2. A foreclosure is just a sale of the property, no different than if the landlord decided to list the property for sale and sold it - no different for the tenant anyway.

3. A foreclosure does nothing to change your rights as a tenant, except that under current law the new landlord has slightly less rights to end the tenancy than if they bought in a voluntary transaction.

4. Before a property is sold, the landlord can kick you out at the end of your lease, or on 30 days notice if you are month-to-month, unless you have been there more than a year, in which case they owe you 60-days notice on a month-to-month rental. Nothing about that changes when the property is sold to a new landlord, EXCEPT you get to stay a minimum of 90 days if the sale is by foreclosure.

5. You still have to pay rent no matter what happens regarding ownership of the property AND you only get the special 90-days protection IF you are current with the prior landlord and stay current with the new landlord after the sale. If you don't, you are subject to eviction, before or after the sale, which is most likely what will now happen to you since you withheld rent.

6. If you are in a city that has evicition control ordinances as part of or independent from a rent control ordinance, that generally continues to protect you after foreclosure and definitely continues after a voluntary sale.

The bottom line is that you played right into your landlord's hands if a short sale is his or her goal. You gave them a deposit and rent that allowed them to delay the foreclosure, but now you stopped paying rent so they can evict you and sell the property as vacant, so the buyer doesn't have to deal with terminating your tenancy if they want to live in it -- greatly increasing the pool of buyers, since people who want a place to live don't want to buy a place with tenants.

If your landlord wants to keep your stream of rent coming while they deal with their lender, you may be able to work out a deal. But if they no longer care about collecting the rent, unless there are some special facts you have not put in your question, you are guilty of unlawful detainer and they have a right to a judgment evicting you and for unpaid rent.

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Answered on 7/03/13, 11:32 pm

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